Kings and Prostitutes

Bering Drive Church of Christ Christmas Devotional

“An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.  And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.  So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.” Matthew 1: 1-17

Kings and Prostitutes

By David Pybus

“Where are you from?” the nurse asked.  “From Houston,” I said.  She told me she was from Angleton, and I told her I know the place quite well.  “No one ever knows where that is,” she said.  But as it happens, my family is from near there. It told me a little of who she was and who her people are.

Matthew begins the story of Jesus by telling us who his people are.  His lineage is grand, going back through a line of kings, back to Solomon and David himself, and on to Judah in Egypt, and to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He has the right pedigree. Yet he and his family no longer live in a palace; he is—it is supposed—the illegitimate son of a young woman in a small town.  Joseph isn’t even his real father.  What does this royal lineage have to do with Jesus and his young mother?

The key is buried in the lineage, where women just like Mary are hiding in plain sight.   Tamar, a woman who tricked her untrustworthy father-in-law into having sex with her, so she could have children. Rahab, a prostitute whose treason saved her life. Ruth, a young foreigner who married an older man, after losing her own husband. And Uriah’s wife, a woman forced into adultery, with her husband murdered soon after.

Jesus comes from a long line of people who aren’t kings and who haven’t done the right thing and who aren’t from the right place.  Mary is certainly not from anywhere, and the world assumes the worst about her.  Yet she is Jesus’ people, just as these women were.   And we are his people, too, even if we are not of royal lineage, or we don’t live in palaces, and even if we come from people who have lived life outside the lines.  If we belong to Jesus, we fit right in among the kings and the prostitutes.

This Changes Everything

Mary and Child

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[a] full of grace and truth.  (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”)  From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” John 1:14-18

This Changes Everything

By Rick Straker

That the Word, logos, God chose to be born a child. Human, and yet divine (as if we have any sense of what that really means). That’s just preposterous… isn’t it?

For me, it’s easier to go with the ethereal (pronounced in a high-brow British accent) Jesus the Divine. Like the wonderful picture William Chatterson Dix paints:

What Child is this, who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ, the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Angels singing… the announcement of cosmic proportions. I can hear the heavenly chorus swell.

No, no problem there. But God becoming human? No beatific halos for Mary and Jesus. Just a poor boy being born, out in a stranger’s barn, rich with the smells of the animals.  A baby who cried, suckled, and needed his diapers changed?

More like Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.”

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?

The first song fills me with awe. 

The second chokes me with feelings of “tryin’ to make my way home.”

And I am so grateful that God chooses to walk with us.


Bering Drive Church of Christ Christmas
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:613


by Jennifer Christian

Pause and take a deep, nourishing breath. 
Notice the tiny, sparkling Christmas lights shining beauty everywhere you go.
Individually, each bulb is dim, a tiny trace of light in the darkness. That is okay! Each light shines dimly with confidence knowing its light becomes magnified when combined with hundreds and thousands of other lights.
We, like John the Baptist, are a tiny light when we choose to receive the gift of Jesus. 
“The true Light, which enlightens everyone is coming into the world.”
John knew he was not the true light, but a testimony of the Light that shines on everyone. On our own, we may think our light is dim and insufficient. That is okay! Your light matters. You are a created reflection of the true Light. Together we shine the message. 
“The true Light, which enlightens everyone is coming into the world.”
Throughout this season, pause when you see Christmas lights, and take three deep nourishing breaths.

Breath Prayer 

Breathe in – Receive
Breathe out – Shine

Receive the gift. You are a child of God. You belong to the Light.
Shine your light out into the world:
Shine – Hope
Shine – Peace
Shine – Joy
Shine – Love

Word Revealed

Word Revealed

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

Word Revealed

By Kirk Blackard

This passage is difficult for me to understand. I take it, however that John is referring to Jesus as the Word, and that attributing to Jesus characteristics of words gives us a better understanding of who he is and what we may look forward to. Several characteristics come to mind:

Words reveal unseen thoughts. The Word reveals the unseen God, as God has spoken to us and revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We can learn to know God better by seeking to hear Him in every way He communicates, and especially in truly knowing the Word.

Words convey messages and meaning, and are vehicles for sharing our thoughts and providing comfort and healing. Through words we communicate with others and form relationships. Jesus has done the same things. Jesus has conveyed the message of good news, that He is with God and is the light that shines in the darkness, the vehicle for comfort and healing.

Words are powerful. It’s often true that “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Even though words are made of nothing but letters they are powerful things because they convey meaning, thoughts, and feelings. Similarly, the Word is the power of God that can change the world and assure salvation for us all.

Words maintain their relevance. The word of God is alive and active, and Jesus is the living word of God. Just as our vocabulary adapts to stay alive and relevant, the Word continues as the light of mankind, even in an ever changing world.

In summary, the Word reveals God and conveys a powerful message of good news that continues to be relevant for all of us.

Blessings Upon a King

Christmas Crown

“Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King
Of Solomon.

Give the king your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
    and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
    and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,
    and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures,
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
    like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
    and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

May he have dominion from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May his foes[b] bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust.
May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
    render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
    bring gifts.
May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations give him service.

For he delivers the needy when they call,
    the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
    and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
    and precious is their blood in his sight.

Long may he live!
    May gold of Sheba be given to him.
May prayer be made for him continually,
    and blessings invoked for him all day long.
May there be abundance of grain in the land;
    may it wave on the tops of the mountains;
    may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
    like the grass of the field.
May his name endure forever,
    his fame continue as long as the sun.
May all nations be blessed in him;[c]
    may they pronounce him happy.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
    may his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.

The prayers of David son of Jesse are ended.” Psalm 72

Blessings Upon a King

By Paul Riddle

This psalm invokes God’s blessings upon a king, probably on the occasion of his coronation. It is unabashedly aspirational. It projects a world imagined, in which the king exercises godly rule, intentionally seeking divine guidance to rule with justice and righteousness. In this hoped-for world, the king thoughtfully considers the impact of his decisions on those who will be affected and seeks to mitigate the affects on those who are most vulnerable. The dignity of each person is upheld, the forces of oppression are thwarted, and the people flourish.

Few of Israel’s kings ruled with the justice and righteousness that the Psalmist envisions. Those qualities remain scarce among the rulers of our own time.

Few of us exercise power on the scale of a king, but each of us exercises power in some realm – parent, sibling, employer, supervisor, teacher, and decision maker. In those realms, where most of life is lived, our influence on the people whose lives we touch may be even more far-reaching and long lasting than the influence of a sovereign on his or her subjects.

Whatever power is entrusted to us, may we exercise it justly and righteously.

A Light Shines in the Darkness

Christmas Light

“But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
    on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
    and the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
    and all the garments rolled in blood
    shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:1-7

A Light Shines in the Darkness

By Sara Faye Fudge

In the darkest of times, for the nation Israel and for us today, the light that is the Lord breaks through the gloom. It  shines and rescues from oppressors, both marauding armies with brute force and blood, and those forces of wickedness that seem to pervade our culture and sadly, our own lives. These dark times are actually the best times for seeing God work in his own transformative way.  The light that illumined the created universe again shines through our own darkness, filling his creation with light and goodness.

The astounding way God accomplished this for Israel was not with stronger armies or crusading causes, but through the life of an innocent child.  This child, this son given to us, would be the manifestation of the very essence of God and his names reflect the wonderful, wise, mighty, eternal nature of God.  His power and might would conquer this world, his favor and protection would prosper the nation, and his rule of peace and righteousness would know no end.

As we await again the celebration of the coming of Jesus, we praise God for his incredible gift that shines light into our dark hearts of sin and doubt.  He offers us rescue from our sins which oppress us, comfort and counsel for each day’s needs, and continuing peace for now and forever.  And in his presence we find gladness of heart.

The Lord Protects the Stranger, the Fatherless, and the Widow

Ruth and Naomi

“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
    he upholds the orphan and the widow,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!” Psalm 146

The Lord Protects the Stranger, the Fatherless, and the Widow

By Don Edwards

There is a beautiful love story in the Book of Ruth; and it is a story that never grows old. No, it is not the story of Ruth and Naomi; nor is it the story of Ruth and Boaz. It is a story about the love that God has for the needy and the disenfranchised in this world. In Psalms 146, God said,

“Don’t trust in princes, in mortal man…How blessed is he whose help comes from the God of Jacob; whose hope is in the Lord his God.”

Once upon a time an Israelite named Elimelech took his wife and two sons into the land of Moab in search of food for his family. Eventually he died then his two sons died leaving a widowed wife/mother and two widowed daughters-in- law. In time the food source in Moab dried up, so Naomi said to her daughters-in- law, “I am going home to Bethlehem in Judah.” But what of the young widows? What will they do? Orpah stayed in Moab, but Ruth said to Naomi, “I am going where you go, and I am choosing the God you chose.”

In Leviticus 19;9, Moses gave the people God’s instruction about the needy: “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corers of your field neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Also leave the fallen fruit for the needy and the stranger.” When the duo arrived in Judah, Naomi located some near of kin and received permission for Ruth to glean the fields of Boaz. This means that God provides by giving the left-overs to the poor. God loves this story so much that he put Ruth, a Gentile Moabite into the linage of His son Jesus.

In conclusion from Psalms 146: “Who gives food to the hungry?…the Lord protects the strangers…He supports the fatherless and widow, “The Lord will reign forever.” Amen

Sign of Hope

Sign of Hope Christmas

“Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.  He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.  For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.  The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.” Isaiah 7:10-17

Sign of Hope

By Daniel Marolf

Most of you (myself included) upon reading this passage were probably confused until you got to verse 14. “What does this have to do with Adven… Oh! There it is! It’s Jesus!” But before we get to Jesus, let’s take a second to consider the other seven verses. For that, I need to tell a brief story (also found in 2 Kings 16:5-20). The story begins in the 8th century BC when Ahaz is the king of Judah. During his reign, the kings of Aram and Israel rebel against the king of the supremely-powerful Assyria, and they want Judah to help them in their fight. When Ahaz refuses, these two kings turn their attention first towards Judah, hoping to overthrow Ahaz by force and put their own king in place. Enter Isaiah (and our passage). Isaiah is telling Ahaz that all he needs to do is trust in Yahweh for help, not call upon Assyria (which he later does). The sign for Yahweh’s deliverance will be the birth of this baby boy, whose name would mean “God with us.” Isaiah explains that before this child is old enough to tell right from wrong, Yahweh would have delivered them from the hands of these two kings, whom Ahaz dreads. The birth of Immanuel was to be a sign of hope. Why does this matter? Fast-forward several centuries to the birth of Jesus, whom we, as Christians, declare with Matthew 1:22-23 to be “God with us.” The 1st century experience of the Jewish people was not a whole lot better than 8 th century experience. They were subject to Roman oppression and domination, able to worship Yahweh, but only on the terms of the Romans. When Jesus was born, his birth became a sign to everyone that God had not forgotten them. In fact, God was literally with them. The ancient predicament might sound similar to our modern predicament. With so much death, violence, and hatred throughout our society and our world, sometimes it seems like God has forgotten us. But then, we remember Jesus – “God with us.” As Christians, we believe that this world is not how it ought to be – that this death, violence, and hatred goes firmly against the plan God had for his world. Jesus is our sign of hope, reminding us constantly that God is working to make the world right.

Lord, thank you for being a God who is for us, who works through us, and who most importantly is with us. During this Christmas season, may we fix our eyes on Jesus and remember that you have not forgotten us and that you are working to make the world right. May your advent – your coming – this season be to us a reminder not only that you came, but that you are coming back. Praise the Lord!

Continually Restored

Christmas Devotionals

“Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you pardoned all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
and will make a path for his steps.” Psalm 85

Continually Restored

By Ginny Smith

God created mankind and had a covenant with his chosen people. He cared for them, restored them and forgave them. But there was a pattern of his people returning to him and, as the psalmist says, always asking God to “restore us again” and “revive us again.”  It seems that all they felt was his displeasure and anger. They realized they weren’t living up to his expectations. They fell short.

We fall short.

What our amazing God does when he sends Jesus, Emmanuel, to earth to live among us, is His ultimate act of restoration and revival.

God in all his righteousness and goodness reaches down from heaven and kisses the earth with the gift of his son. He provides access to Himself so we can be continually restored. He allows His “glory” to live in our land. He shows us that His “peace” can live in our hearts. He provides a living example of how to get along in this world He created.

Not only do we have written and oral expectations on how to live, we have a personal gift, a guide who now lives within us.

“The LORD will indeed give what is good.”

Our prayer O Lord is to recognize this wonderful gift you have given us. We are so amazed at your desire to be with us and to help us in all ways. Help us unwrap the present of your son and get to know him during this season of advent.

Through him we pray,


The Gentle Work of Creation

Bering Drive Church of Christ Christmas Devotionals

“Now you are walled around with a wall; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the ruler of Israel upon the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace. If the Assyrians come into our land and tread upon our soil, we will raise against them seven shepherds and eight installed as rulers. They shall rule the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the drawn sword; they shall rescue us from the Assyrians if they come into our land or tread within our border. Then the remnant of Jacob, surrounded by many peoples, shall be like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not depend upon people or wait for any mortal. And among the nations the remnant of Jacob, surrounded by many peoples, shall be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, with no one to deliver. Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.” Micah 5: 1-9

The Gentle Work of Creation

By Jeff Christian

As Jesus draws us nearer to him, we cannot help but become more like the Savior. During the season of Advent, we anticipate what the Lord has in store for our lives. How will Jesus shape us, create us, use us for glory?

We find ourselves somewhere in the middle of creation. The Lord has already done so much in our lives. Jesus has brought us salvation and taught us how to follow the way of ultimate truth. All we have to do is say “Yes” each day as we follow Jesus.

Since Jesus is from the beginning, “whose origin is from old, from ancient of days,” we join the Savior in the work that began before time. Micah 5 promises that “he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord.” Micah wrote this because his audience was mainly the leaders, the national figures who were so overtaken by their own greed that they forgot to care for the poor. This is likely why Micah 5:7 speaks of our dependence upon God far above the politicians and celebrities who fade faster than a twice-marked-down shirt off the sale rack.

God always preserves a remnant of the faithful, those who repent with gratitude, those of us who anticipate more to come. We need no credentials to apply, much less to continue. So, we meet Jesus in a manger, a gentle reminder that the entire world is made new in the humblest of moments.